Top 6 Music Licensing Questions

Top 6 Music Licensing Questions

1. How do I know my business needs music licensing? And what does it cost?

Short answer:
If you operate a business using music, whether the source of the music is live or recorded, you most likely need the authorization a SESAC performance license provides.  Cost varies by industry, but it is typically very affordable to work with music licensing companies, compared to other essential operating expenses, especially considering the value it delivers. Obtain a license online at SESAC: Get a License, or schedule a consultation with a SESAC representative.

For More Detail: 
Title 17, Section 106 of the U.S. Code (the U.S. Copyright Act) sets forth a copyright owner’s exclusive right to publicly perform its copyrighted musical works. The law also establishes that a business must obtain prior authorization from the copyright owner to use or allow the public performance of their musical works.

To put it in perspective, if your business is using music, such as a live band, DJ, Digital and/or Streamed Audio, TV, Radio, or Pay Per View Sports and you do not have permission from each individual copyright owner of each individual song prior to that song getting played, you have likely violated federal law. You are using someone else’s intellectual property without their permission, and you could be liable for copyright infringement.

For over 90 years SESAC has been working to streamline music licensing for business owners, granting blanket authorization to use any of its growing and extensive catalog of affiliated songs and musical works written and owned by thousands of songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

SESAC is committed to making compliance convenient for business owners. Simplifying the licensing process, SESAC offers license agreements across a wide range of industries that let you obtain authorization tailored for your business.

License fees vary by industry. Obtain a license online today at SESAC: Get a License, or schedule a consultation with a SESAC representative.

2. How can I get a license for playing music in my business?
For a variety of industries, you can obtain a SESAC license online today in just a few easy steps at SESAC: Get a License. If the license for your business isn’t available online or you have questions about music licensing, we recommend you schedule a consultation with a SESAC Licensing Representative. Our team of experts are looking forward to connecting with you and guiding you through the process. With license agreements spanning a wide variety of industries, SESAC has options designed to keep you compliant, ensuring your use of any music in the SESAC repertory is covered.

Here are just a few examples of businesses regularly obtaining a SESAC license; TV, radio, satellite and cable operators, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, hotels, motels, health clubs, resorts, skating rinks, country clubs, dance schools, stadiums, water parks, amusement parks, colleges and universities, shopping malls, retail establishments, planetariums, museums, cruise ships, festivals, concert promoters and many others. We also cover music licensing for online uses such as websites, apps, streaming radio, gaming, fitness, social media, and other live streaming as well as on-demand digital products, services, and platforms.

Visit to learn more or to obtain a license, today!

3. Can I legally stream Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, or any of the other platforms at my business?
If you are asking that question, you may want to talk with a SESAC licensing representative to make sure your business is licensed appropriately. Personal streaming accounts with the above services, including paid accounts, do not grant public performance rights for use in a business.  

Visit to learn more or to obtain a license, today!

4. What constitutes music copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement is defined in Title 17, Section 501 of the U.S. Code.  To paraphrase, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. 

This is where licensing becomes critically important. A license is a formal grant of permission to use a copyrighted work. Because a music copyright is a form of intellectual property, the owner of that property can charge a fee in exchange for this grant of permission.  

License fees are dramatically less expensive than failure to comply with the U.S. Copyright Law, which can result in statutory damages for infringement ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each unlicensed song performed.  

If you perform copyrighted music in your establishment, the law requires you to obtain permission for its use. If you do not obtain permission and use music owned by others, that constitutes infringement.  

Visit to learn more or to obtain a license, today!

5. What happens if I stream or play live music without getting a music license for my business?
Lawsuits are filed every year against businesses for committing copyright infringement.  This is an unfortunate course of action that music creators and Performing Rights Organizations would prefer not to pursue.  However, using someone’s intellectual property without their permission can result in statutory damages up to $150,000 per song performed. As you can see, the consequences for non-compliance with U.S. Copyright Law are real and impactful for the infringing business or owner. Ultimately, music licenses you obtain through PROs, such as SESAC, grant blanket authorization to an expansive repertory of music, making compliance convenient and far less costly than the alternative. 

Looking at the bigger picture, we often find that failure to comply with U.S. Copyright Law can be remedied through education. Once better understood, businesses acknowledge this is a cost of doing business and realize the convenience and benefit of obtaining a SESAC performance license. Often, we find that business owners aren’t aware of the human impact of non-compliance, and that when they fail to obtain permission to use someone else’s intellectual property, the equivalent would be someone stealing their product or service. While many see music as part of celebrity culture, the songwriters and composers who create much of the music we listen to regularly are similar to small business owners, with families to feed, mortgages, and bills to pay. 

As a Performing Rights Organization, SESAC works hard to protect its affiliated copyright owners; songwriters, composers, and music publishers who dedicate their lives to creating the music we all love.  At the same time, SESAC is committed to making the music licensing process as frictionless as possible for business owners so that compliance is convenient.

Visit to learn more or to obtain a license, today!

6.  What is covered with my SESAC blanket music license?
SESAC has an extensive repertory with new and classic hit songs for every different taste in music.

Our diverse repertory includes songs across every genre including Adult Contemporary, Americana, Urban, Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Big Band, Jazz, New Age, Easy Listening, Christian, R&B, Hip Hop, Rap, Blues, Bluegrass, Gospel, Latin/ Hispanic, Tejano, Salsa, Caribbean, Polka, Band, Choral, Classical, Educational, and Children’s music, as well as jingles and other theatrical and commercial compositions that are used in radio, television, film and streamed online. 

Check out some of our genre-specific and recent award show pages that feature examples of current hits represented by SESAC.

Visit to learn more or to obtain a license, today!


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